08-18-2017 07:23 PM
Hi! I have been preparing for the SAS base certification exam by using the material in the SAS e-learning courses Programming1 and Programming 2 as recommended on the SAS certification website.
I was wondering if anyone could tell me how similar this material is to the Certification Prep Guide that is also recommended? Is reviewing the material in Programming 1 and 2, as well as practicing in SAS and potentially taking the practice exam a potentially sufficient way to prepare without also including the Certification Prep Guide, or would all of the above be recommended?
Thanks in advance for any feedback!
08-18-2017 08:09 PM
IMO I'd get the guide if you can afford it, and if not see if your library or university has access via SafariTech books.
If you're in Canada or somewhere SAS has their Friends of SAS program you can earn points to getting it for free by doing quizes and posts. It's pretty easy going place.
I recommend the guide because it's easier to study from, has clearer examples, good questions that are the same style as the exam. The topics are well laid out and you can use the book as a reference guide later on. It covers a topic, then has questions on it.
The course notes on the other hand, kind of need the instructors slides to go along. They're not stand alone in my experience. And nothing beats real life practice of course. Try answering some questions on here. There was a post for some discount related to the certification a few days ago. https://communities.sas.com/t5/SAS-Certification/Celebrate-Back-to-School-Time-SAVE-50-on-SAS-Certif...
08-18-2017 09:13 PM
Hi Reeza, Thanks so much for your feedback and advice!
I'm in the US and don't think I can access the guide other than buying it. I am considering it, like you mentioned, its the cost mainly thats making me pause.
I'm also curious your opinion: I would likely purchase the guide book on Amazon and when I looked it up previously, I saw several reviews stating that the book has significant typos and that the questions are not as challenging as the ones on the actual exam?
Did you encouter these issues at all?
08-18-2017 09:32 PM
Typos are minimal and noted on the website.
I found the questions are bad in the guide but also in the exam. So same level of 'badness'. It's how they're phrased, I feel it was developed a long time ago and really needs a refresh. The questions are nitpicky - ie it feels like they're trying to trick/catch you rather than test your skill set. Things like perhaps a SUM STATEMENT vs a SUM FUNCTION.
The annoyance with the questions for Base, at least for me, was the concentration on working with text files. I rarely, almost never, work with text files. I work primarily with data from servers so that part wasn't applicable and I didn't study it as thoroughly as I should have. I don't remember by exact scores but I almost failed that section, passed the others with flying colours.
I guess the thing for me is, I don't know of any other reputable source that I'd recommend. And that's the kicker. I think there was a 20% off books if you bought it from SAS but maybe that was last weekend...
08-18-2017 09:49 PM - edited 08-18-2017 09:50 PM
Thanks for all of this feedback Reeza! This is very helpful. It definitely sounds like it makes sense to invest in it if there aren't other reputable sources you'd recommend.
The quizzes at the end of the e-learning classes are very focused on syntax details, which seems similar to what you are mentioning about the exam.
Thanks for the advice about the text files too and the link to the typos!
I appreciate all of your help!
08-19-2017 02:26 PM
Just writing to support what @Reeza said. I took both basic and advanced exams in 2014 (I think), and I found the basic exam was very concentrated on fiddly little options for reading semi-structured text data, which I pretty much never do. I only squeaked through that part, and had no problem with the rest, or with the advanced exam.
If there was one section that I could have told my previous self to read before the basic exam, it would have been this one and the associated subsections.
08-19-2017 02:50 PM
Thanks so much for sharing this! I really appreciate the additional information and the link in terms of what to make sure to study!
As I'm reading these notes from you and Reeza, I'm curious-has receiving the certification been beneficial in terms of your career path? I have just completed my masters in applied statistics and am currently applying for jobs, but don't have a good sense currently of how the certifications might impact my job search (besides being beneficial overall). My graduate program has given us the opportunity to take the base exam. If you are open to sharing, I'm wondering what factors may have influenced your choices to take the basic and advanced exams?
Thanks in advance!
08-19-2017 03:12 PM
Well, I kind of did things backwards. I worked for Statistics Canada, the Canadian national statistics agency, for 35 years, the last 10 or so exclusively with SAS. I discovered I really enjoyed the ability that SAS gave me to solve the sort of problems that interested me, so when I left I transitioned to becoming a consultant, specializing in SAS. As part of this, I thought that getting base and advanced certification would be a plus in landing contracts.
Was it? To be honest, it's very difficult to say. I always mention it when I bid on contracts, and it's prominently on my CV. On the other hand, my depth of experience tends to make formal "certifications" somewhat redundant. I'm hoping some folks who read your post, and are more recent into the working world, might add their experiences as they will be more relevant to your situation.
Best of luck with your endeavours, and I hope you have a long and happy career in statistics! The world needs more statisticians.
08-19-2017 03:46 PM
Thanks very much for sharing! Its really nice to hear about the different career options and opportunities that exist in statistics. Working for a national statistics agency sounds like a great job.
I can certainly imagine that experience counts for a lot, I can see that is part of the challenge of getting a job after finishing the masters program.
Your feedback is really interesting and helpful, and I agree- it would be great to hear the experience from others as well!
Thanks for your reply and your kind words!
08-19-2017 05:32 PM
08-20-2017 12:24 AM
Reeza-thanks for this feedback-this makes complete sense!
Do you have any advice on getting that experience after graduating from a master's program while applying for that first job? I've heard some people recommend trying to access open source data and do projects independently. I signed up for Statistics Without Borders and heard that they will present opportunities for volunteers when they arise.
Wondering if you have other advice for building experience out of school or things you look for in the applicants you are evaluating?